Marketing a Book as a Movie

I have never read Vampire Academy, but I’ve seen three trailers for the movie. The first had a color scheme prominent of bright green and pink, highlighting all the fun, light-hearted moments these teen vampires share, a la your typical high school comedy film (it is sure to emphasize that the director of Vampire Academy also directed Mean Girls). All I could base my thoughts on Vampire Academy the book was its cover, and the book cover and the look of the movie I saw being advertised just didn’t seem to jive. (Of course, based off the cover, I would expect Angelina Jolie to be in the movie.)

vampire-academyI also heard some of you guys mention that the movie did not look like it was going to be true to the nature of the book. So I was not too entirely surprised when I saw the second trailer, which emphasized much more dramatic, serious moments in the movie. And I thought, Aha, they must have heard the outcry and changed the focus. The third trailer I saw was a blend of the two, highlighting both funny and serious.

And that lead me to think about how we want to see our favorite movies marketed to us when they come to life on the big screen. I know that when I saw the first Hunger Games teaser, which was just Katniss in the woods, I was really disappointed. But the first real trailer that came out after that was really good, and the trailers for Catching Fire were definitely amazing, truly capturing the heart of the story: the rise of the rebellion and the struggles that Katniss faces.

When the first Divergent trailer came out, there seemed to be some mixed reactions. I thought it did a good job of highlighting moments from the book, but we all look for different things. And then there’s always the fear that a certain actor or actress is not going to be able to fill the shoes of your beloved character, so even if the movie is marketed well, it may affect your perception of it for that reason.

And then there is The Fault in Our Stars, another book I have not read and is being turned into a movie. A trailer hasn’t come out for it yet, but the movie poster already has people talking with its tagline…


I’m still weirded out that this is Tris and Caleb in the Divergent movie…

One Sick Love Story. Catchy marketing slogan, or insensitive and classless? Again, it seems to depend on who you ask.

So what do you look for when you see a book you love marketed as a movie? Which book-turned-movie do you feel has/had the best marketing? Which do you feel has/had the worst? 

*EDIT* For those interested, here’s a tiny clip from the trailer for TFiOS.

20 thoughts on “Marketing a Book as a Movie

  1. Vampire Academy is definitely not a way to market a book. First failure, is the poster itself. I think I got an epileptic attack when I first saw it. Then the trailers came out and it just got worse and worse. You can so clearly see that the director also did Mean Girls as the trailers are bloody soaked with references to it. Then comes Catching Fire which I think was done absolutely brilliant. The trailers got you just more curious and curious. The poster was fantastic, all the references to Katniss being the Mockingjay were just…wow. Then the Capitol Fashion posters so clearly mirrored the characters. I know Katniss wasn’t sitting down in the chair because she had a big ass wedding dress on, but I think the producers also wanted to show that she’s not content in sitting back and watching things happen around her. But I might just be digging too deep. When it comes to The Fault In Our Stars I really can’t be bothered. There’s just so awfully wrong for me with the actors and I doubt I will even watch the movie. But I did like the poster. At least before I saw the tagline. I admit it’s so Hazel and Augustus, it’s a thing that they would say and the people who have read the book might be really content with that. But when marketing a movie, you’re supposed to target people who have NOT read the book or have NOT even heard of it. It’s about selling the movie to new crowds, not making the people, that already know about it, happy. From a point of an observer, not a person who loved the book, I think it’s horrible. Instead of appealing to new people, it throws them away and I don’t think that that is what should have been done.

    Anyway, that’s quite a rant.

    • You make a good point that they are trying to market to a larger group of people and not just to the people who read the book. And I like your analysis on Katniss’ picture with the chair! It was interesting to see the different characters in different chairs as well.

  2. Siiigh I have read and loved each and every VA book (though to be honest, I’m not a fan of any of their covers, haha), and I have to say that when I saw the posters for the movie, as well as the trailer, I was massively disappointed. I mean, the first trailer, which was funny, made me feel as if they were making a mockery out of VA, so I think you’re right when you say that they tried to change the focus. But that tagline though…. UGH! I was thinking of forfeiting, because I am so afraid of disliking this movie and having it ruin my love for VA, but a review of the earliest pre-showing was positive, which somehow changed my mind a bit. And as for TFiOS, I actually approve of the tagline, because it’s a slap in the face, and it tells me that even the sick can have their own love stories, or something like that. I get why some are offended though! SO as to what I look for in marketing…. a pretty poster and an amazing trailer of course 😀 I think the Harry Potter and THG ones do the trick! (even Percy Jackson wasn’t half bad, though the movie itself is a different story). VA is probably the worst XD Well anyway, great post Amy ❤

    • Yeah, even without having read any of the VA books, the first trailer I saw really felt like a mockery to me as well, because I was under the impression that the books weren’t exactly Mean Girls meets vampires!

  3. Interesting post, Amy! Like Jasmine, I read all the VA books and loved them! But so far I’ve been really skeptical of the movie. I’m still gonna watch it, but the movie doesn’t look like how I pictured the books at all; it also doesn’t look like something I’d like to watch if I hadn’t read the books. Generally, if I’ve read a book and liked it I’ll see the movie when it’s made–even if it looks bad. But, while I wasn’t offended by The Fault In Our Stars poster, I probably won’t see that movie. I loved that book, it was a great story, and so well written. Normally I wouldn’t want to read a book about kids dying from Cancer, but John Green’s voice added just the right amount of humor and heart, and I’m not sure those things will be conveyed in the movie. I’m also really creeped out by the fact that the guy who plays Caleb in Divergent plays her love interest in TFIOS. So awkward!

    • You’re not the first person I have heard mention that the voice in The Fault in Our Stars was what you loved so much about the book and that there’s a concern about how that could be conveyed in the movie. And I’m glad I’m not the only one creeped out by the from brother and sister to boyfriend and girlfriend thing!

  4. I also have never read the VA books, so I don’t have a merit based opinion on the marketing. The movie looks completely silly and not what I was expecting when I heard they were making it a movie. I do own the first book and will probably read it before this comes out on video (there’s no way that it a theater movie).
    As far as TFiOS. I have read the book and I do think that the characters would find the tagline fitting. I can see why some people would find that offensive, but offensive humor tends to be what I find to be the funniest. I will watch the movie, although again, I’m sure it will be when it comes out on video.
    I don’t have any films that really jump out at me as bad. The Catching Fire trailer was unbelievable. It seriously brought tears to my eyes and made me so excited to see it–even though I didn’t really care for the first movie (I didn’t hate it, but I thought it could have been a lot better). Catching Fire was awesome, though, and the trailers were spot on.
    Great post!

    • Perhaps the thing with the TFiOS tagline is that if you like it, then you’ll like the characters and their story, because it’s fitting of them.

      The Catching Fire trailer definitely put a few tears in my eyes as well! And gave me chills! I can’t wait for the first Mockingjay trailer!

  5. I’m not sure why, but it seems like they’re marketing VA to a much younger crowd…like an early teen crowd? That’s the only reason I can think of for the way it’s been marketed, which as an adult, has me completely turned off from going to see it in theatres. It was bad enough that none of the actors cast fit the image I had in my head, but now they’re also all acting like these flippant barbie-types. Not cool.

    As someone who hasn’t read TFiOS, the tagline really threw me for a loop. I was someone who read it as insensitive and classless.

    Catching Fire was done brilliantly. The preview gave me chills, and I found myself a little teary-eyed by the end. It captured the essence of the growing rebellion PERFECTLY.

    • The VA movie does seem marketed towards a young teen crowd, and that’s definitely alienating a large portion of its fans, I’m sure. And as an adult who does read YA but has not read Vampire Academy, it definitely did not pique my interest in any way.

  6. *applauds* This is perfect. Perfect. I haven’t read the VA books so I can’t comment on that, but TFiOS? YES. I absolutely hate that tagline, because that’s SO not what the book was about. Yes, there’s romance, but there’s so much more than that.

  7. I can absolutely agree with each and every trailer for the HG movies. My heart just goes into heart failure at every one of them.

    As for the rest, I really want to suspend judgment until the movie, but it’s just so hard not to. For Twilight, Kristen has the Bella look down flat, with the pasty skin and staring and all. I had my qualms about J-Law for Katniss when I saw she was blond, but the first pictures came out and the stare had me going, “This is Katniss.”

    But the fact that Shailene Woodley is both Tris and Hazel and Augustus is her brother in another movie? Both coming out in the same year? Just no. I personally don’t approve of Shailene, because she doesn’t bring any “Aha!” feels whenever I saw her in the posters for her movies. She doesn’t have that stare to carry Tris’s defiance, and she doesn’t have the body for a dying person. She may be the unconventional star with meat on her bones, but I was expecting someone absolutely skinny to the bones for Hazel.

    Adding the tubes for Hazel does not mean that the actor looks sick enough. She looks perfectly healthy beside Augustus.

    I don’t think I’ll be watching it. I only liked the voice of the book.

    As for VA, as someone who knows nothing about it, it’s just a mess.

    • It does kind of bother me that two of the same actors have prominent roles in two movies geared towards the same crowd and are being released close together, even putting aside the weirdness of the relationships they have in the different films. Is Augustus just as sick as Hazel or not? I found it odd that he had so much hair.

  8. This is a great topic, Amy! Honestly, I wish that they would just market the movies to be as close to the true heart/nature of the books as possible. I suppose that maybe that is up for interpretation in some cases (surely the VA books have both a serious side and a humorous side — although I haven’t read them either, so I don’t know). It really bothers me, though, when they clearly try to market the movie for a NEW audience, instead of just trying to appeal to the fans of the book. Maybe that seems shortsighted of me or something. Obviously they want to bring in as much revenue as possible… but I still think that pissing off fans right away is a bad idea!

  9. I think it’s a really interesting idea. i have a friend and we always discuss movie marketing but I hadn’t thought about it much in light of book marketing when it’s an adaptation.

    I think you have a lot more to work with in movies because you have a cast and music and with books you kind of only have the cover and the idea of it. But when marketing an adaptation I think you would want it to convey the tone of the book to connect to readers so they recognize what they love.

  10. I tend to hold out on mu judgement until I see the movie. I mean, I was not impressed with the first VA trailer, the second was much better, in my opinion. Regardless, I have to wait until I see it to see if it matches up with the books, which I loved.

    Also, I didn’t realize that the actors for Tris and Caleb were Hazel and Agustus (well I knew it was the same actress, but not the actor). That is kinda weird to think

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